Charlie Manuel has said for weeks now that he'd love some help in the back of the Phillies bullpen before the trade deadline passes at the end of the month.
Brad Lidge probably wasn't exactly what Manuel had in mind when voicing his desires, but the former Lights Out closer could help in a big way down the stretch. And he showed a nice glimpse of how good he can be in his first appearance of the season for the Phillies against the Padres this afternoon.
Lidge may not have full confidence just yet in his fastball's velocity, only throwing two heaters out of eleven pitches on the day -- one at 89 mph and another at 90 mph according to the telecast.
But one thing is clear: Lidge's slider was still plenty nasty. And he threw 9 of them, with plenty of bite to show for it.
He came in to pitch the seventh inning, replacing Andrew Carpenter who pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Cliff Lee.
Lidge got Will Veneble to ground out to first, struck out Kyle Blanks, and forced Jesus Guzman to ground out to third to end the inning. The slider looked fantastic.
Charlie Manuel was happy with the way Lidge threw.
"He had a good inning. He did very well," Manuel said. "He threw strikes. Slider was
good. Spotted his fastball. Didn't throw a lot of 'em, but when he did,
he kinda used it and sat on the hitters."
What would it mean to the Phils' bullpen if Lidge can return to form?
"It would mean we'd have another piece that can pitch from the seventh inning on back," Manuel said. "That's big."
Fans in attendance gave Lidge a South Philadelphia ovation (good kind) as he walked off the mound to end the inning. After spending half the season on the DL, it must have felt fantastic.
Bullpen mate Michael Stutes was also great for the Phils on Monday, pitching two scoreless innings of his own. The pen kept them in it, but the bats failed to overcome the late deficit.
Final score: Padres 5, Phillies 4.